Summary: We often think that our emotions are a burden, rather than a blessing, but nothing could be further from the truth. God created us with emotions so our lives might be enriched. But we do need to learn how to embrace and employ our emotions in a way that is helpful, not harmful.
A. There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.
1. When asked to define what he meant by a “great writer,” he said, “I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, and howl in pain and anger!”
2. That man is now employed by Microsoft and writes computer error messages!
3. Few things bring out our emotions more than computer problems – can I get an “amen”?
B. Emotions are something that all of us have and experience.
1. Someone has rightfully said that we are millionaires in emotions and they come in infinite combinations of type and intensity.
2. Unfortunately, we usually think of our feelings in negative terms.
3. We’re so accustomed to hearing the phrase “emotional problems” that we often think our emotions are a bother, and a liability.
4. At times, many of us have likely thought that we’d be better off without emotions, but nothing could be further from the truth.
5. Emotions are in indispensable part of our humanity, but emotions are something we must learn how to embrace and employ for them to be helpful rather than harmful.
C. Today’s sermon begins a new sermon series that I am calling “Embracing and Employing Our Emotions.”
1. I hope that this series will be very practical and very positive as we come to see the blessing that God intends for our emotions to be in our lives.
2. For a long time I have been thinking about the need for a sermon series or a class about our emotions – kind of an emotions 101.
3. Having ministered now for almost 40 years, I have come to realize that we will not be able to have spiritual health or relational health beyond the level of our emotional health.
4. Human beings are complex and our bodies, souls and spirits are intertwined and have a direct impact on each other, both personally and communally.
5. That’s why I feel it is so important that we learn how to embrace and employ our emotions as we realize that emotions are a gift from God.
D. One of the fears that I have about trying to address the subject of emotions is that I will be misunderstood.
1. By trying to address this subject, I don’t want anyone to think that everyone can learn to manage their emotions without professional or medical assistance.
2. I hope I am not too far off when I say that many or most of our emotional challenges are of an everyday type that come from our reactions to life circumstances, reactions to the way we are treated by others or because of wrong thinking.
3. But some of our emotional challenges may come from short-term or long term trauma or chemical imbalances that may need medical or professional help to cope with.
4. So I want to caution us about jumping to conclusions or about judging each other in regard to any of these things.
E. When it comes to our emotions, there are two opposing extremes that I want us to avoid.
1. One extreme is to try to ignore our emotions.
a. This seems to be a popular approach taken by many Christians who see our emotional makeup as a hindrance to progress in the Christian life.
b. But emotions are not something that should be denied, or suppressed, or ignored.
c. When a person denies or suppresses their anger, bitterness, shame or sorrow, those emotions don’t disappear, rather they just smolder and simmer beneath the surface.
d. Those smoldering emotions do internal harm, and will simmer until they build to a boiling point and explode injuring everyone in their proximity.
e. So ignoring or denying our emotions is not a helpful or a healthy approach.
2. The opposite extreme is to allow our emotions to be in-charge.
a. When we make our emotions the primary focus and the primary decision maker for our lives, then we are in for a bumpy ride.
b. As you know, our culture has become steeped in sensuality and has cut ties with moral absolutes.
c. The bumper sticker says it all: “If it feels good, do it!”
d. If you have a sexual urge, fill it; if you have anger; express it; if you feel tied down; walk away from your responsibilities – it’s your life and you’re number one, so do as you please.
e. Blindly following our feelings is not really the path to happiness and health.
3. As I thought about these two extremes, I found myself thinking about characters from television and movies.
a. I thought about Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk from Star Trek – they make a good contrast between someone who is trying to be emotion-less, and someone who is prone to be driven by emotion.